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Interview with Joanne Emilia Timmins, Winter 2022 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up


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Joanne has recently decided to take Pablo Picasso’s words to heart: It takes a long time to become young. Now old enough to be well and truly young, she is spreading her creative wings and sharing her written work more widely, through contests, writing groups, with friends and family. Joanne has never met another person whose childhood, like hers, was marked by parents admonishing her to “put that book down and get outside and play,” but is sure they exist. Dubbed “the Bookworm” in childhood, she also loved to draw and write. Her earliest readership was her grammar school classmates who would be asked to vote on the cartoons she created and circulated. Joanne majored in English, briefly became an English teacher and then wrote health and wellness articles for local papers as a community educator and organizer. Now retired, she lives with her husband, grown daughter and two dogs in Rockland County, New York. Joanne is truly grateful to Women on Writing and feels like a kid again! And yes, there is a novel in the desk drawer. 

----------Interview by Renee Roberson 

WOW: Hi Joanne! Congratulations, and thanks for joining us today. How did you get the idea for “Lucinda Rising” and how did it evolve during the revision process? 

Joanne: The story sprang from two impulses: one is my love for dogs; the second is my interest in what post-apocalyptic life will look like. Humans’ relationship with dogs is very redemptive; our dogs love us unconditionally. Living a post-apocalyptic life will be harsh, no matter the reason for the onset, so our best selves will not be front and foremost. So in that nexus between hope and despair, between love and savagery, I chose to write a dog love story. The revision process was short once I realized that that was what I was writing: a love story about a person and a dog for whom all niceties of modern life, like names, had been stripped or forgotten but who still retained the ability to forge connections. 

WOW: Oh, as a dog lover, I totally relate to this and loved that aspect of the story. What is your favorite line from “Lucinda Rising”? 

Joanne: What I like about flash fiction is that all your lines have to be your favorite line; the writing has to be taut. But I would say I especially like, “She was starving but beyond hunger.” It sets up the dire emergency she and the dog face: imminent death. Time has been telescoped down to the NOW: she must find food now; her husband must return now; she and the dog must state their intentions toward each other now. 

WOW: What do you think are the hallmarks of a good writer bio? 

Joanne: I think it depends on why you are writing it! What would the reader like to know, and why? For a writer profile for a runner-up in the Flash Fiction contest, I think readers would want to know if you are a beginner or a seasoned writer; have you been published; how do you plan to practice and perfect your craft; do you have any special knowledge, skill or life experience that informs your work? That’s what I like to find out for myself, a novice in the area of fiction writing. In general, I love to know where the author lives and with whom. I love photos of the author. 

WOW: Great tips! What type of literature do you enjoy reading? 

Joanne: I adore all print materials: books, magazines, cereal boxes, etc! My favorite genre right now is mystery, followed by psychological drama/suspense and adventure/ survival tales. 

WOW: I'm a sucker for a good suspense/thriller, too! You mention the novel in the desk drawer. Do you hope to find it a home or are there plans to work on something else? 

Joanne: Yes and yes! My novel is a mystery and I worked hard on solving it! There's a lot more hard work ahead in terms of edit and revision! The characters do keep tugging at me, though, so I feel like I owe it to them to finish it up properly. Then, depending on the finished product, I could make a reasonable decision on whether the desk drawer should or shouldn't be its final resting place.

I am working on another novel right now, similar to the first in that death is a main theme.

I really enjoy the tight structure of flash fiction or short story and hope to participate in more contests; the feedback is very helpful!

WOW: Well, we can't wait to learn more and champion all your hard work. Thanks again, Joanne!


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